In 2019, when LinkedIn started asking for phone numbers for Chinese users, it was clear that the professional social network would have to follow a different set of rules in the country. But he realized that simply putting in place the real name verification regime required by Chinese authorities was not enough; he faced an increasing task of balancing the demand for censorship and defending his “western value” which advocates free speech.
The solution was to retreat. Last October, Microsoft announced that it would be phasing out the Chinese version of LinkedIn – which still worked largely the same as the “global” version, except for additional requirements such as number verification. cell. On December 13, Microsoft introduces a LinkedIn alternative called InCareer on the Chinese App Store and third-party Android stores. Focusing on jobs, the new app carries the face of LinkedIn but lacks its social feed and content posting option, which would otherwise require content monitoring efforts from the Microsoft team. China. InCareer still retains the messaging function.
In a blog Publish, LinkedIn explained their decision:
Although we have been successful in helping Chinese members find jobs and economic opportunities, we have not found the same level of success in the more social aspects of sharing and information. We also face a significantly more difficult operating environment and more stringent compliance requirements in China.
Microsoft is not the only foreign tech giant to have withdrawn its service from China. In recent years, China has introduced a slew of new cyber regulations to control everything from how much data internet businesses can collect to how they move data across borders. Yahoo, the parent company of TechCrunch, recently left China citing an “increasingly difficult business and legal environment.”
China-based users with the LinkedIn app are now invited to download InCareer, although they can still access the full version of the social network through a web browser and VPN. But these additional fences are designed to keep users away from a platform that already had limited reach in the country.
LinkedIn was mostly popular among expats and Chinese users working in multinationals or cross-border companies, while its local competitor Maimai is more prominent. In April, Maimai made up 91% of the time Chinese users spent on professional social media apps, according to market research firm iResearch.
Microsoft’s other surviving service in China, Bing, also encountered a problem recently. The search engine became inaccessible in China on December 18, according to user reports and Greatfire.org, although it appears to have returned online on December 20. TechCrunch has contacted Microsoft regarding the situation.
The incident also coincided with Bing’s suspension of its auto-complete search function in China for 30 days “under the laws of the PRC,” according to one. note published by the search engine provider. We do not know which laws the site referred to.
Bing was briefly down in China in 2019 when the reputation of native rival Baidu took a hit. At the time, speculation was rife that Baidu users migrating to Bing en masse could have crashed the US site.
It’s not uncommon to see foreign tech companies catching up with Chinese laws after being left alone for years. Apple launched a crackdown on unlicensed mobile games from its Chinese App Store years after the relevant regulations took effect. Bing’s suspension may well be a similar case where the search engine, which had long been under the radar in China because few people used it, was finally ordered to close the loophole – autofill suggestions that could annoy the censors.